Several weeks ago, a little girl we know had major surgery. Her two-year-old sister couldn’t possibly understand the magnitude of what was happening or why mom and dad would have to give extra attention to her younger sister. As a mom, I couldn’t comprehend how to help the parents, but I do know how to take care of two-year-olds. So, I made up a plethora of busy bags. Some were activities she could do alone, some where things for her parents to do with her, but they were all designed to engage her and give the parents an easy way to interact with her—despite how busy or depleted they might be.
When it came to DIY busy bags, I did my research. You can check out my DIY Busy Bag Pinterest board. I looked for age appropriate activities, fun and educational options, things that required parent supervision and many that didn’t.
Once I had some ideas, I created a Word document outlining each bag, which you can check out here. I used that as a guide to collect my supplies. I had a lot of it already, but for what which I didn’t have, I put out a call on Facebook. My friends responded in droves. Turns out, lots of people have unwanted craft supplies that they are happy to donate. For the things I couldn’t find, I turned to a local dollar store. I think I spent a total of $10 to make all of these busy bags.
|Pom Pom Pickup||Use the clothespins to grab the pom poms. Drop them into the cup. See how many you can do in a row without dropping them.||For this, I used a bunch of pompoms of varying sizes and some clothes pins. I used a plastic cup as a goal for the dropping the pompoms.|
|Letter Board||Use the letters to spell your name! You can use them to spell lots of easy words too. How create can you be?This one is a small cookie sheet with lots of magnetic letters.||In this case, I used larger letters because there is a smaller child in the house and I didn’t want her to swallow one.|
|PlayDoh Mats||Use the Play Doh to learn counting. Roll it out and make the numbers. Use the Play Doh to make fruit in the tree. Example, on the number 10 mat, put ten pieces of fruit in the tree.||I got these mats from this website. I printed them, laminated them and included a few containers of PlayDoh.|
|Felt Fun||Use the felt pieces to decorate a Christmas tree, fill the ocean and make your dream ice cream cone.||I created a backboard of felt and then cut out shapes to fit on it. The shapes are three different types, fish, ice cream scoops and a Christmas tree with decorations.|
|Cookie Dough||Use the Play Doh to roll out a cutting surface. Use the shapes to cut out “cookies.”||I included a few jars of PlayDoh and a few cookie cutters in the bag.|
|Color Matching||Match the colored clothes pins to the colors on the paint palate. Then, pick up the coordinating color pom pom and paint a pretend picture.||I cut a paint pallet out of cardboard and then painted little dabs of color around it. Then, I put the same color on several clothes pins. The goal, obviously, it to make the colors.|
|Decorate the shapes||Use the crayons to decorate the butterflies and stars. When you are done, find a fun place to hang them up.||Someone donated some pre-cut butterfly and star shapes. I included some crayons to let the imagination run wild!|
|Pipe Cleaner Shapes||Bend, twist and mold the pipe cleaners to make fun shapes. What can you make? We made a flower to get you started.||All this required was a bag of pipe cleaners! I made one flower to start, but the rest is up to her.|
|Take care of your baby||Make sure your baby doll is well fed and has a fresh diaper. Use the medicine dropper to make sure she has all of her medicine. Then wrap her up warm and cozy for sleep.||For this bag, I sewed up a few baby doll diapers—the pattern is here. I included an unused medicine dropper, an old baby bottle and a blanket that was in my “donate” pile.||Apparently there was no picture of this one, but trust me…it was cute!|
|Color Flash Cards||Do you know your colors? Learn colors and shapes through these cards. Then, try to find them in the world around you.||I found these flash card in our basement. We seem to have a plethora of these types of flashcards. I included them in the bag. I wanted to hole-punch all of them and put a ring through them so they didn’t get lost, but I ran out of time.|
|Lacing shapes||Use the yarn to weave your way through these shapes.||I printed some shapes and then laminated them and punch holes in them. I then tied a piece of yarn to it for easy lacing.||Again, there was no picture.|
|Car mat||Take the cars out of the bag, but leave the road map. Race your cars around the map from the outside of the bag and it should last you quite a while.||I printed a blank street map from this fellow blogger, and sized it to fit the gallon-size Zip Loc bag. I then stuck it to the bag and included some cars. All she has to do is take out the cars and zoom around the roads!|
|Coloring Pages||Use the crayons to color the Thomas the Train coloring sheets. Be sure to hang them on your fridge to show off your artistic skills.||I printed some coloring sheets of her favorite characters and included some crayons.|
|Bubbles||Is it a nice day out today? Why not go outside and chase some bubbles! I’m sure your mom and dad will blow some in your direction!||I had some unopened bubbles donated and put them in the bag.||There was no picture available.|
|Sidewalk Chalk||As long as no rain is the forecast, head outside and draw on the concrete! Draw a heart and remember your family LOVES you.||I included a few pieces of big sidewalk chalk.||There was no picture available.|
|Busy Bottle||Can you find all of these shapes in that bottle? We think you can. Don’t worry mom and dad, it’s super glued shut!||I collected small items from around our house, laid them out on the counter and took a picture of them. I then put them in a water bottle filled with rice for a fun hunting game. I don’t know what they have at their house and sidewalk chalk is always a fun thing to do outside.|
|Books||Need a few new books to read? Cozy up with mom or dad and listen to these stories.||For this, I included a few of the Sparkhouse Family books that I was given for review. Once I read them, I figured she might like to hear the stories too!|
My kids were all enthralled with these bags on some level. As I was putting them all together, they wanted to play with them—probably because they were new—but even at 8, 6 and 2, these bags were useful. I highly recommend DIY busy bags, tailored to your child, for doctor appointments, long car trips or any other time when you just need to keep them occupied.